Ronald Reagan: We all grow old, and learn in our lives, and I've learned that all kinds of people can get AIDS. Even children. But it's the disease that's frightening, not the people who have it. Maybe it's time we all learn something new.
Ed Bradley: If you think AIDS comes only from a dirty hypodermic needle, or indiscriminate sex, think again. Or better yet, meet a family, a model family, caught up in the AIDS epidemic through no fault of their own. In 1981, the Glaser's had a baby girl. The birth was a difficult one and the mother was given seven pints of blood. It never dawned on them that that blood could have been contaminated, or that there was any reason why, three years later, they shouldn't have another baby. As we said, it was the early eighties, and AIDS contaminated blood was something almost no one ever heard of, let alone worried about. Certainly not Paul Michael Glaser, who played 'Starsky' on the television series, "Starsky and Hutch", and his wife Elizabeth. But a year and a half ago, their little girl died of AIDS, and during her illness they discovered that both Elizabeth and their little boy, had the AIDS virus in their systems.
Elizabeth Glaser: When we were told our medical situation, our family had three members who had AIDS, or were infected with the HIV virus. Our doctor said, don't tell anyone. The world is not ready for your family.
Bradley voice-over: They were a Hollywood couple to be envied. He's now a successful director; she was the exhibit director of the LA Children's Museum. But as soon as they started sharing their tragic reality, they began to experience first hand the discrimination that, until then, they had only read about.
Paul Glaser: It was the scarlet letter. We experienced varying degrees of people saying they couldn't be close to us, their kids couldn't play with our kids, um, and as a result of that we, ah, really lowered the wall.
Elizabeth: We had to lie. We had to keep the secret; we had to worry about all these things on top of horror that we were living everyday.
Bradley voice-over: Although Elizabeth and their young son, Jake, had the HIV virus in their systems, Ariel already had full-blown AIDS, and she was getting sicker by the day. The disease affects children differently than it does adults, and as in most cases, it attacked Ari's central nervous system.
Elizabeth: She couldn't read, she couldn't write, she couldn't walk, she couldn't talk for months. Um,.... we loved her.
Paul: She also had a lot of pain. A lot of pain, she suffered greatly. She had innumerable things,....she didn't have an immune system, so she was vulnerable.
Elizabeth: And I looked at her one day and I knew she was starting to fail. And I picked up the phone and called the doctor, and said, she's starting to fail, we have to get AZT. It was the only hope.
Bradley voice-over: Up until that time, Ari had been treated only with antibiotics. The so-called 'miracle' drug, AZT, wasn't yet approved by the FDA for use by children. But the Glaser's were desperate. They pulled every string, used every contact. Elizabeth even went to Washington and spoke to anyone who would listen. Finally they were able to get the drug for Ariel.
Elizabeth: And it had a remarkable impact on our daughter, and, um, for three months she, she hadn't hadn't spoken a word, and after three weeks on intravenous AZT, I went into her room and she said, good-morning mom, I love you. And, ya know, I went into Paul and said (voice catching), she talked! And everyday after that for nine weeks she improved, she was walking, she was reading, she was writing. The hope of drugs is there, I saw it in my house.
Bradley voice-over: But for Ari, the AZT came too late to ease her pain. By then the disease had too strong a hold, and three months later she died. And the Glaser's tried not to be too bitter.
Elizabeth: We have lost a child, and we have a child's life who hangs in the balance, and there are many, many others like that. And now, you're not naive anymore, and there is anger, and there are problems, and there are answers to the problems, and there are people who don't want to look at the problems, or the answers.
Bradley: Elizabeth decided that people ought to look and the problem and find some answers. With two friends she founded the Pediatric AIDS Foundation and set out to educate everyone that AIDS in children is a very different disease than adult AIDS. And to sound the alarm that in ten years there could be as many as 20,000 kids born with AIDS. She's determined to raise money for research programs so that so that someday, what happened to their child won't happen to somebody else's.
Elizabeth: I'm not a lobbyist. I'm a mom with a child, whose life hangs in the balance, and then I am the person who can speak for all those other children whose life hangs in the balance and they deserve their best shot.
Bradley: And her best shot is what they get.
Elizabeth on phone: You know, we were originally told that the money, for the ten million dollars was new money.
Bradley: She's relentless in her pursuit of money for the cause. She's made eight trips to Washington to beg, plead and cajole any and all who will listen.
clip of Elizabeth looking over notes with Susan DeLaurentis. The last page is the summary of the FY90 budget.
Bradley: And now Elizabeth and her friend and co-founder, Susan DeLaurentis, are preparing to storm Washington for the ninth time.
Elizabeth looking over notes: They have to add new money into the budget. If they take it, you know, from something else, that's not okay either.
(Clip of Elizabeth and Susan entering a Washington building)
Bradley: They've made a lot of good friends on Capital Hill. Among them, the assistants to Senator's Hatch and Metzenbaum, that have helped them through the maze that is the Washington bureaucracy
Elizabeth, eating lunch in a boardroom during a meeting: But there will be an identified person whose only issue is focusing on Pediatric AIDS and the coordinated effort within the government.
talking with a member of the meeting:
member: So what do you need to put that in place? Do you need a bill? Do you just need them to have the resolve to do it over there?
Susan: You tell us.
Elizabeth: And who puts together that bill?
Member: Whatever senator the congressman thinks is a good idea.
(Clip of Susan and Elizabeth being greeted warmly by Senators Hatch and Metzenbaum)
Bradley: They've even been able to make strange bedfellows of Senator Hatch and Metzenbaum. Last summer, these two senators were at the opposite end of the political spectrum, join together to help plan a fundraiser for the Pediatric AIDS Foundation, which raised two million dollars. And Glaser hopes they will do it again this year.
(Clip of Elizabeth and Susan leaving the building)
Bradley: When you see Elizabeth Glaser in motion, it's hard to believe that this ball of relentless energy also has the HIV virus and at the moment is taking precautionary doses of AZT.
(Elizabeth and the Bradley talking face to face)
Bradley: Should you be doing so much? Shouldn't you be conserving your energy?
Elizabeth: I think about that sometimes, but I only know one way to live and that's full-force. I'm in a race against the clock. I've been infected for over 8 years and my sons been infected since his birth and I have to do everything I can right now and not think about the future too much.
Bradley: How much realistically do you think you'll get done?
Elizabeth: I don't like to think in realistic terms, first of all. I'd like to get, I'd like to get everything in place in the next twelve months in terms of the governments responsibility and their goals being consistent with our goals. Um, I don't know if I will be able to do that. If I dealt with what was realistic, I don't know if I would be able to leave my house.
(Clip of the Hollywood premier of 'Immediate Family' shown. Paul and Elizabeth arriving at the event).
Bradley voice over: This was the Glaser's first public appearance since their personal drama began, the premier of the Columbia Pictures movie, "Immediate Family", and it's a benefit for the Pediatric AIDS Foundation. For the last three years, they have lived, for the most part, with their secret, sharing it only with close friends and family. But then last May, on the first anniversary of their daughters Ari's death, they got word that the supermarket tabloid The National Enquirer was planning a cover story on them and though they used every means available, they could not dissuade them from printing it. But they beat the Enquirer to the punch, they gave their story to the LA Times, saying 'if our story is going to come out, we want it to come out our way'.
(Back to Paul and Elizabeth sitting on their couch)
Elizabeth: And it turns out, that there was a very happy ending. That our community and school rallied behind us. I mean, people called up and said, "we're not afraid of you. We want to know how can we help you, what can we do?"
(Clip of the premier party)
Bradley voice over: And their hear tonight to thank their friends and colleagues for coming to the benefit, and a lot more.
(Clip of Paul giving an emotional 'thank-you' speech at the benefit with Elizabeth standing at his side)
Paul:To those friends whom we see often, to those friends whom we see only occasionally, and to this industry, that I believe always knew in part, sometimes only as a rumor, some version of our story and chose to honor our privacy and now has rallied to support the issue of pediatric AIDS, to all of you, (briefly gets caught up with emotion) from the bottom of my heart, thank-you.
(Clip of the benefit party, and a shot of David Soul with Paul and various other friends and Hollywood guests)
Bradley voice over: One of the reasons Paul and Elizabeth Glaser were forced to live in secret with their terrible reality was that they were afraid of the reaction of this very community. Three years ago, they didn't believe that this scene could have been possible. But the climate in the country has changed somewhat towards those with AIDS. People have become more educated about how you get it, and how it is almost impossible to get it through casual contact.
Elizabeth voice over: We are the casualties of the war. But the war is not on the people who are infected, the war is against a virus, and that's where America lost track about this disease.
(Interview continues with Paul and Elizabeth sitting on their couch)
Bradley: But does it say anything about how difficult it is to get AIDS? I mean the fact that you?
Paul: It's very difficult?
Bradley:?a normal life up until the time you found out.
Paul: It's very difficult to get it. (Looking at Elizabeth) I've been exposed how long? How long? Give me a quick, fill in a number here?
Elizabeth: Well, I mean I was infected for five years before we even knew, so?
Bradley: Paul, were you afraid of getting it?
Paul: Oh yes, oh yeah. It's ah?absolutely, I mean no matter how much I was told otherwise, and no matter how much information we would get from the doctors, it's an irrational fear. It's there.
Elizabeth: I mean we share food, we share glasses, we, you know, we kiss, we, you know, he hugs Jake, he, you know, Paul is as intimate as any normal husband would be and he's fine, and I think that that's such an important statement about this disease. That AIDS is not a virus that you can get from just loving someone.
(Clip of Elizabeth as she greets former President Ronald Reagan who is arriving for a taping of a public service announcement for the Pediatric AIDS Foundation, which is being directed by Paul).
(President Reagan asks how they are doing.)
Elizabeth: Ah, good morning Mr. President?I'm fine?.it's good to see you. I'm so excited, I can't stop smiling right now!
Bradley voice over: Elizabeth first met Ronald Reagan when he was in the White House, and although he didn't jump on the bandwagon when he was in office former President Reagan is now on board.
Elizabeth: This is Susan Zeegan. President Reagan. And Susan De Laurentis. President Reagan. This is the Pediatric AIDS Foundation. So anyway, we welcome you and want you to come in and Paul?
(Paul, with a big smile, shakes Presidents Regan's hand)
Paul: Hello Mr. President.
Reagan: Hello there.
Paul: It's a pleasure.
Elizabeth: This is my husband, Paul Glaser.
Paul: How are you sir, thank you for being with us.
Elizabeth: He is your director today.
(Paul and President Reagan head over to a seat to begin taping for the AIDS awareness announcement)
Bradley voice over: As testimony to Glaser's personal powers of persuasion, it was clear in this public service announcement for the Pediatric AIDS Foundation that the former President has changed his mind.
(Clip of Reagan taping his segment as Paul directs him)
Paul: Action on the dolly. Mr. President.
Reagan: "We all grow and learn in our lives and I've learned that all kinds of people can get AIDS, even children. But it's the disease that's frightening, not the people who have it. You can't catch AIDS from hugging someone. I'm not asking you send money, I'm asking for something more important, your understanding. Maybe it's time we all learn something new. "
(Brief cheers and clapping from the film crew.)
Bradley voice over: But it's President Bush, not former President Reagan, who they really need now.
(Clip of Elizabeth and Bradley sitting and talking face to face)
Bradley: If you could sit face to face with President Bush, what would you say to him?
Elizabeth: I'd say you can't stop increasing AIDS money until the pediatric issue has been completely flushed out. Don't let these families be forgotten. We need a team captain. We have a great country, a brilliant country. It can, I believe, that we can solve this problem. Maybe not in time to save my son and myself, but certainly in time to save thousands of other people if we mobilize, not just our resources, but an attitude of caring about this disease. I'd like to see that attitude come in a strong way, right from the top.
(Clip of Paul and Elizabeth walking with their arms around each other down Georgina Ave, Santa Monica,smiling and laughing as they walk towards the camera .)
Bradley voice over: Where to you go from here? What's next?
Paul voice over: Well, we have two feet. Put one foot in front of the other.
Elizabeth voice over: You don't want to loose your hope. I mean we don't know when an answer might be found for this disease that may change all our lives. And where do you go? You love your kid everyday. You, you walk outside and you appreciate your life, even though it's horrible, because you have it, and you learn to love what you have now.